Much has been said of late about the dwindling fortunes of the region and there is gleeful hand-wringing from Wapping to Canada Square at the apparent demise of the easy expat life. We read the articles sent over by concerned family members, and know there is some element of truth and yet, we look out the window at fellow office workers, at fellow diners in the crowded restaurants, across the compound swimming pool at another Dad and his son, at the passing faces in the busy mall…. and to a great extent have to conclude, that expat life goes on.
The crunch question is “Do you still have a job?” And depending on the answer, the situation is of course quite different.
Just about everyone now knows someone who has lost their job, but of those who have, a good proportion, have found alternative work in the region, if not in Dubai itself. Commuter traffic to Abu Dhabi is reportedly up to a fast moving four lanes, admittedly with some of that being Abu Dhabi number plates choosing to get the benefit of considerably lower rents / house prices in Dubai.
We’re waiting for September to see the true effects of the global economic melt down. We fully expect some surprises; some families not coming back. Maybe they know already, maybe they’re just waiting to see if something else comes up at last minute, but not everyone wants to share with the community at large that they have lost their job – why would they? So for now, there is still a sense of uncertainty. People are being a little more circumspect about spending, or investing.
SEE ALSO: Is Dubai in a meltdown?
For those who are still working (and that is by far the majority), actually, provided their jobs are safe (a thought that makes us all a little cautious) things are okay. In fact, they’re better than okay. If anything, the roads being a little quieter has just made the city run that much smoother and we can get to places we’d given up on in previous years. Expat tenants are giving notice to landlords who refuse to lower rents and are moving to bigger houses / better locations for less money. The sales are in full swing and the summer offers at hotels and restaurants have kicked in. Local resorts are offering cheap getaways and the city is moving into summer mode, with an array of free entertainment for families.
‘Mad dogs and Englishmen’; it’s too hot and humid to enjoy outdoor life really, but there are plenty of people defying the odds. Mornings and evenings you can still enjoy a walk on the beach or a dip in the sea, the tracks round Safa Park are still busy with mums having dropped off at school, and Wolfi is still taking a peleton of 120 mad cyclists out for a couple of hundred km ride every Friday morning. Golfers are teeing off at 6am, hotels, compounds and residents have chilled their pools and restaurants have set up fans and outdoor aircon for al fresco diners. Life could be worse.SEE ALSO: Welcome to Dubai, newcomers!
Come September, we will look around at who is back and there will be a sense that ‘we’ve made it’. We’ve got through the storm and its time to re-build. Confidence is the key to any market and once things start to move again we will be back to a virtuous circle, albeit considerably more cautious than the bullish years that recently passed. You never know, through all of this we may once again be able to convince the HR world at large that Dubai is a hardship posting after all and compensatory recompense is due.... unlikely; that particular cat escaped the bag a long time ago. This region is firmly established as a lifestyle posting and most people here are in absolutely no hurry to leave.